Using the digital differential display program of the National Center for Biotechnology Information, we identified a contig of expression sequence tags (ESTs) which were unique to ovary, testis, and egg libraries. The full-length cDNA of this transcript was deduced and further confirmed by reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). The cDNA encodes a novel protein of 341 amino acids with a nuclear localization signal. The carboxyl-terminus of the protein contains three C2H2 zinc fingers, and the NH(2)-terminus is proline and serine-rich. Based on the conserved zinc finger motifs, we have termed this novel protein as zinc finger protein 393 (ZFP393). Northern blot and RT-PCR analyses revealed that Zfp393 mRNA was exclusively expressed in testis and ovary. The expression sites were further localized by in situ hybridization to step 3-8 spermatids in testis and growing oocytes in ovary. The Zfp393 gene consists of three exons spanning approximately 8 kb on the distal part of mouse chromosome 4. The carboxyl-terminal zinc finger region is highly homologous to several zinc finger-containing proteins, but no proteins were found to share sequence similarity with the NH(2)-terminal region of ZFP393. Genomic database mining and Southern blot analysis indicate that Zfp393 is a single copy gene. We hypothesize that ZFP393 functions as a germ cell-specific transcription factor that plays important roles in spermatid differentiation and oocyte development.